intellectual, scholar, scientist, academic

I’ve been musing about the above terms. In particular, I’ve been suggesting to graduate students recently that the goal of academic life ought to be to strive for one of the first three without ever becoming the fourth. Rather, academic behavior ought to be understood as one — perhaps even the best — way to institutionalize the ideals of being an intellectual, a scholar, or a scientist. Here are some quick thoughts on the distinctions:

  • Intellectual: broad thinking, crosses disciplines and potentially boundaries of the academy; integrative, synthetic.
  • Scholar: steeped in traditions of thought and writing; less likely to cross disciplines widely, though perhaps maintains cordial relations with neighboring disciplines; cautious in expansiveness of thought, but ambitious with respect to its import.
  • Scientist: approaches many matters of interest with a commitment to evidence and a clear-eyed, “show me the data” manner; disciplined with respect to conclusions but often expansive with respect to questions.
  • Academic: understands work as about lines on a CV, whether funding or publications; works on “inside dopester” lines, tends to know who is doing what but not to think all that much about it.

Author: andrewperrin

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

2 thoughts on “intellectual, scholar, scientist, academic”

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